pa·tel·la | \ pə-ˈte-lə \
plural patellae\pə-ˈte-(ˌ)lē, -ˌlī \ or patellas

Definition of patella 

: a thick flat triangular movable bone that forms the anterior point of the knee and protects the front of the joint

called also kneecap

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Other words from patella

patellar \pə-ˈte-lər \ adjective

Examples of patella in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

During the surgery, a doctor removed a tension wire in his knee that was placed there during a repair of his fractured patella at the end of the 2014-15 season. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Report: Celtics star Kyrie Irving to miss rest of regular season, playoffs," 5 Apr. 2018 Miller was on the DL twice last season with patella tendinitis., "WR Brandon Marshall catches on with Seahawks," 30 May 2018 The team also had good news, too: the removal of the wire should alleviate the soreness, and the patella has healed completely. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Celtics: Kyrie Irving will resume basketball activities in 3-6 weeks after knee procedure," 24 Mar. 2018 The wire was inserted in the knee during the surgical repair of a fractured patella sustained during the 2015 NBA Finals, according to the Celtics. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Celtics: Kyrie Irving will resume basketball activities in 3-6 weeks after knee procedure," 24 Mar. 2018 Nicolas missed last season because of a ruptured patella tendon, suffered in the final game of the 2016 season. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Chiefs-Browns trade that brought tight end to KC is called off | The Kansas City Star," 4 May 2018 Francois tore his left patella tendon in the first game of the 2017 season against Alabama, missing the remainder of the season. Jenna West,, "Report: Florida State Quarterback Deondre Francois Facing Misdemeanor Marijuana Charge," 12 Apr. 2018 The fracture in Irving’s patella has completely healed, and his knee remains structurally sound. Ira Winderman,, "With Kyrie Irving out for playoffs, No. 7 could be even more desirable to Heat," 5 Apr. 2018 Given his more severe injury of a fractured patella and three torn knee ligaments, Livingston also feels fortunate to be part of this Warriors reign in his 14th NBA season. Paul Coro,, "Shaun Livingston's career nearly ended with a grotesque knee injury. Instead he's a two-time NBA champion seeking another title," 14 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patella.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of patella

1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for patella

Latin, from diminutive of patina shallow dish

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Time Traveler for patella

The first known use of patella was in 1634

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More Definitions for patella


pa·tel·la | \ pə-ˈte-lə \
plural patellae\-ˈte-lē, -ˈte-ˌlī \ or patellas

Kids Definition of patella


pa·tel·la | \ pə-ˈtel-ə \
plural patellae\-ˈtel-(ˌ)ē, -ˌī \ or patellas

Medical Definition of patella 

: a thick flat triangular movable bone that forms the anterior point of the knee, protects the front of the joint, increases the leverage of the quadriceps, and is usually regarded as a sesamoid bone since it is developed in the tendon of the quadriceps and in structure is similar to other sesamoid bones

called also kneecap, kneepan

Other words from patella

patellar \-ər \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on patella

See words that rhyme with patella Encyclopedia article about patella

Comments on patella

What made you want to look up patella? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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